Use braille displays with VoiceOver on Mac
If you connect a supported braille display to your Mac, VoiceOver detects it and sends it information about what’s displayed on the screen. You can connect multiple braille displays to your Mac; each display mirrors the same content at the same time, useful in a classroom setting. You can customise settings for your display in the Braille category of VoiceOver Utility, and set verbosity levels in the Verbosity category.
Uncontracted and contracted braille
By default, VoiceOver displays braille output and input using eight-dot braille but you can choose a different mode in VoiceOver Utility.
Six dot: VoiceOver automatically translates each word you type on your braille display into braille output after it determines you’ve completed a word or after you press the Space bar on your braille display.
Contracted six dot: VoiceOver dynamically changes the display under the cursor from contracted to uncontracted braille, so that you can read and edit more easily, and then changes back to contracted braille when you move the cursor.
Eight dot: VoiceOver automatically translates each character you type on your braille display into braille output, as you type it.
By default, VoiceOver shows multiple items on a braille display and not just where the VoiceOver cursor is focused. For example, when the VoiceOver cursor is focused on an item in a window, the braille device displays items like icons, tickboxes and pop-up menus, as well as text to the left and right of the VoiceOver cursor. You can change this setting in VoiceOver Utility so that only the item in the VoiceOver cursor is shown.
If a line is too wide to fit on the braille display, you can “pan” the line using the left and right buttons on the display. Each left or right pan moves according to the number of cells (including status cells) your display contains. When you move the VoiceOver cursor, the braille display pans when necessary to follow it, even wrapping to the previous or next line.
You can assign a command to keys on your braille display to control whether VoiceOver automatically advances to the next line when panning; you can set an option in VoiceOver Utility to control how long VoiceOver waits before automatically advancing.
By default, VoiceOver wraps long words that don’t fit on the current braille line to the next line, which is displayed after you pan.
Dots 7 and 8
When the option to show multiple items on the braille display is set in VoiceOver Utility, VoiceOver raises dots 7 and 8 to indicate the position of the VoiceOver cursor and, when you edit or select text, the text selection. VoiceOver indicates the position of the text selection cursor, called the “I-beam”, by flashing dot 8 of the braille cell preceding the I-beam and dot 7 of the braille cell trailing it.
VoiceOver uses three status cells to provide additional information about what’s on the screen. You can set the number of status cells that are used and their location on the braille display. For example, you can use the cell that shows text status and set its location to be on the left of your display.
If your braille display has a Perkins-style keyboard, you can type on it.